In primary school,

My parents would take me to the market a week before summer holidays ended for a very important purpose: buying a whole academic year’s worth of stationery. 

And believe me, that was one shopping trip I waited for. Entering the stationery store was no less than entering a toy store for me.

Scanning each and every corner of the shop with wide eyes, I would try to pick up the best stationery for my coming school year. There were fancy pencil boxes that had buttons. With the push of a button I could have my eraser, another button and all my pencils would be lined in front of me, and another button, and I had a sharpener. 

For a child who loved her stationery more than her toys, this was it. 

I had found everything I had ever wanted, till of course I looked at other options. There were roll-over pencil boxes which changed colours with a flip, pen pencils that didn’t need a sharpener and erasers in all shapes and sizes, including cars, super heroes and even phones.

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I fondly remember how much of a stationery competition returning to school was. Everyone had their own pencil box, their own box of magic. Pencils came with accessories like erasers that could be attached at the top. And then there were pencils decorated with glitter. It was a crazy affair that usually ended with exchanging stationary.

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In Middle School,

The time to use pens had arrived. The one sign of growing up before puberty actually hit was when you started using pens instead of pencils. My stationery shop didn’t disappoint me this time either. There were Reynold Racers, Uniballs, Pilot pens and even fancy fountain pens. Pens were just as decorated as pencils. I bought one which could actually be used as a hair clip, one, which in retrospect, looked like a disco ball, and one simple fountain pen that made me go off fountain pens for the rest of my life.

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The fancy pencil boxes took a backseat for more mature ones. But there was something else that was added to my stationary shopping: the slam book! It holds so many secrets that I can still use as leverage with my childhood friends. From forgotten crushes to celebrity preferences, going through the slam book is like the modern day version of ‘The letter I wrote to myself when I was 12’. One can always have a good laugh over it, isn’t it?

But glitter pens were the new introduction that kept the child in us alive. We spread the sparkle on our assignments, posters and even charts. This phase of growing up made us discover stationery we had never looked at before. The era of post-its had also arrived. Paper, which carried our messages, could be taken off just as easily as it could be stuck and appeared to be some sort of cool magic. So many post-its have been sacrificed to my ‘to-do’ lists that I never followed through. 

The highlighters were another thing that excited us. Like any bunch of amateurs, we coloured pretty much our entire text book with them.

In Senior School,

I remember my first date in a stationery shop. He bought me a pink coloured spiral notebook for my poems and I bought him a bunch of stickers for his new laptop. As we were surrounded by the smell of new notebooks and fancy pens that looked like they belonged to the adult world, love happened.

Slightly less favourite part of my stationery shopping was a big bunch of cheap notebooks that year. The pages looked old and there was no fancy spiral. The counterpart of these notebooks were pens for 5 bucks each. My parents bought all of it in bulk so that I could practice Maths for my Boards. When I look at them now, it makes me realize I should I have never given up on doodling. But even they’ve become a part of my fond memories from back when stationery actually had a purpose.

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We’ve found apps for pretty much everything, we have a contact book on our phones, we type all day on it and we now have camera phones to capture our stories. The bottom line is that we barely get to put pen to paper anymore.

And yet, whenever I come across a stationary shop, I can’t help but enter it just to relive my childhood all over again. I usually also end up purchasing things I will never use but what the hell, stationary is too pretty!